News

Master Plan consultation report highlights Warrenpoint Portís need for better communication

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

REPORT on the future of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority (WHA) has drawn some interesting responses from the public.
The masterplan for the port, which will guide its development over the next 25 years, was made public in April, and was also the subject of a public exhibition last month.
Among the aims of the masterplan are the desire to improve transportation and circulation at the port; to improve port capacity, operations and facilities; grow a diverse customer base; develop and improve linkages with the town of Warrenpoint; and develop a long term strategy expansion.
Following the publication of the masterplan, a Consultation Report has now been published.
Members of the public have had the opportunity to comment on this, and the Newry Democrat has had sight of some of the contributions made.
On the subject of communications between the authority and the wider public, the WHA conceded that there was "a thread throughout the consultation" on the need for better communications when the port undertakes development projects. One contributor commented: "A shed went up on Kelly's Quay with no notice. WHA I do not trust any of you.
“Communication can improve. Consider social media."
Some fishermen who attended the exhibition expressed concerns that the masterplan made no mention of the fishery boats and the impacts of ports activities on the mussel beds.
They felt that the port master plan does not provide for expansion of berth space for the fishing boats.
One fisherman said: "We would like to highlight our concerns as wild mussel fishermen who work from Warrenpoint.
“Firstly, absolutely no mention of our activities within the waters being proposed for the ports expansion. The Narrow Water shellfish bed and Carlingford Inner shellfish waters are both within the areas being proposed for future development. "Water quality has been steadily deteriorating over recent years. Once again no mention of these facts are forthcoming despite the obvious impacts they are and would have on our future."
The consultation report noted that dust and noise are ongoing issues associated with the operation of the port, and which have an impact on the amenities of people living close by.
Monitoring systems for both dust and noise are in place, and which are coordinated with the Environmental Health team at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
The CO2 facility proposals in the plan raised a number of queries. This facility has planning consent and has been fully assessed by the planning authority.
The CO2 facility is for the storage of CO2 in tanks, used in food production (fizzy drinks, mineral water) and also in fire suppression (fire extinguishers).
In relation to this issue, one contributor said: "We are living in the same address for 25 years and from 15 years ago we have been plagued with noise from the port.
“At the start it was the clipper point ship which came into the harbour in the early hours and also at night. We, along with neighbours complained to the Department of the Environment, which found the noise levels were above legal level and the ship was replaced.
“Noise levels were more tolerable until scrap metals was introduced a couple of years ago. The noise has again increased by the dropping of metals into the ships.
“Although this happens mostly during daylight, it has become intolerable. My husband is disabled and we are home all day. It is stressful that we cannot open the windows of our house. With plans to expand the port how are you planning to reduce noise levels?"
In response to these queries generally, the WHA replied: "The port will be proactive in reducing both noise and dust nuisance issues.
“In terms of dust management the port has invested significantly in new dust suppression facilities. The dust suppression system comprises a DUST BOSS water mist cannon and a smaller portable water mist cannon.
“The main grain store has rain bars installed to suppress dust at both doors of the shed. The port has two air quality monitoring instruments installed in the port, which record levels of air pollution on a daily basis.
“On noise the port will endeavour to reduce noise impacts in all shipping operations. The port investigates and responds to all noise complaints.
“The CO2 facility has been granted planning consent and is compliant with all environmental and safety requirements. The CO2 gas is stored in tanks and used in food production for companies such as Coca Cola to put fizz into soft drinks.
“The fishing quay has been cleared. A revised procedure is in place to conduct periodic inspections and actions will be taken to ensure a satisfactory standard is maintained in the future.
“The port will comply with all environmental assessment requirements in relation to Natura 2000 sites and the ASSI in the normal course as required by planning legislation."
Speaking following the release of the report, Clare Guinness, Chief Executive, Warrenpoint Port said: "When we launched our draft Masterplan, a key part of the consultation process was to hear from our stakeholders about the plans.
“It was a pleasure therefore to welcome more than 100 members of our community to a public exhibition held in Town Dock House. Many had some association with the Port, having worked there over the years, or enjoyed or worked on the Lough or its shores.
“The majority of respondents were supportive of our Masterplan and understood the important role the Port plays in the local economy.
“As a community, this is our Port, and we can all share in its success. That's why we are refreshing our communications strategy to ensure that news and information on development projects within the Masterplan are readily available and accessible to the community.
“We have also prepared a full response to some concerns raised during the consultation and published this on our website. We want to be transparent in all our operations."
Clare added: "Thanks go to all those that took part in the consultation, including local government and business bodies, community groups and our customers.
“We look forward to moving forward together as we share in the aim of making Warrenpoint Port, the Lough and surrounding area, a place we can all rightly be proud of."
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